Better tactics and a harder work ethic will make up for West Bromwich Albion’s relatively meagre outlay in the transfer market this summer, according to manager Tony Mowbray.
He would not have it any other way. The Baggies have confirmed the signing of Roman Bednar for £2.5?million in a three-year deal from Heart of Midlothian, exercising the option to buy the on-loan Czech striker who scored 17 times in 34 appearances last season.
Although the amount of money Mowbray has at his disposal is not known, the club has made it clear that big name and big money signings are not their concern.
“I genuinely feel that the chairman wants us and expects us to overachieve next year – I expect that too,” said Mowbray.
“The more you push the boat out the more you leave yourself vulnerable to come down with huge debts, huge salary levels and no one wants players who are on 40k a week if you go down.
“My chairman at Hibernian used to say to me, ‘you keep sprinkling that magic dust over the team’ and while Mr Peace doesn’t say that to me, that’s what he wants me to do. He wants me to sprinkle some magic dust where other clubs may throw money around.
“That’s not being disrespectful – it’s about being better than the next guy, working harder, giving more thought and building a team.”
There can be no dusguising the magnitude of the task that faces Albion. Of the three teams promoted last year, Birmingham City and Derby County are back in the Coca-Cola Championship while Sunderland scraped survival after spending close to £40million on players.
That sort of money is thought not to be available to Mowbray – but seeing as he has reiterated his desire to buy cheaper players whose characters and egos will fit into the close-knit community he has built at the Hawthorns, like Bednar, one assumes that is not a problem.
He added: “It’s not about money but about personalities, quality and the talent you bring in.
“At Ipswich we didn’t sign a single player apart from Hermann Hreidarsson who replaced me in that first season when we finished fifth.
“But we had a mentality that we could win if people disrespected us. It’s up to me to instil that mentality.”
Albion have been forced to pay Hibernian a six-figure sum as a promotion clause in the compensation package that took Mowbray to The Hawthorns.
The 44-year-old succeeded Bryan Robson in October 2006, shortly after Mowbray and assistant Mark Venus had signed rolling one-year contracts at Easter Road.
Subsequent negioations from compensation stalled, with Albion’s initial offer said to be only £120,000.
Baggies chairman Jeremy Peace eventually struck a deal promising Hibs more money should Mowbray get them promoted within his first two seasons.